Apr 03

Eco-home: 5 Tips To Make Your Home More Sustainable

ecohomeIt seems to be the new trend at the moment and with good reason too! In the last decade particularly, many governments and communities have zoned in on the idea of sustainability. Sustainability is the concept where current needs are met without depleting the resources of future generations.

Likewise, individuals and families can also operate in more environmentally friendly ways. Indeed, sustainability in the home can also cut down on costs and make your home more comfortable. There are countless ways to go about sustainability in your home. Here we survey five top suggestions.

Choose your plants wisely

Aren’t having plants an eco-friendly choice in the first place? In some respects, yes. However, plants that require lots of water are generally considered a less sustainable choice. The choice of plants will often depend on the climate in which you live in. For example, if you live in a dry climate such as in Australia, look out for Australian native plants. Fruit trees are also a good idea in providing shade for your backyard and fresh fruit for you!

Choose eco-friendly paints

Many people would be surprised to know that the UN International Agency on Research into Cancer (IARC) categorises painting as a “hazardous profession” due to various toxic components in many paints. This is because paints contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Instead, choose plant based oils. Plant based oils are low-VOC and more sustainable than paints derived from petrochemicals.

Choose eco-friendly floors

With flooring, it is not so much the material that matters but the maintenance routine required to maintain its durability. This is because most floor finishes are also plastic based, meaning that VOCs and allergens will be emitted from your floor after installation and recoating. Once again, you can avoid this by choosing low VOC floor finishes. Alternatively, choose ceramic, hard tiles, linoleum, and cork as your flooring.

Use less electricity

While the choice of paint and flooring are sustainable design choices, there are also sustainable living choices you can make every day in your home. Saving energy is an easy way to be sustainable. This includes simple things like turning off lights when not in use. Some less common ways: turning off your cable set-top box when not in use, having a correctly sized air conditioner, and organising your fridge!

Use recycled or reclaimed materials

If you’re hunting for that perfect piece of real estate to buy or build up, consider choosing or building a home with recycled or reclaimed materials. If you’re after wood, look for wood from older torn-down buildings or else types such as bamboo that grow quickly and sustainably. If you’re already settled into a property, consider buying more recycled products at the supermarket, whether it be pens or even toilet paper!

Amy Hopkins is a university student and freelance writer who is interested in flicking through the newspaper looking at NSW real estate. You’ll often find her dreaming about properties she can’t quite afford to buy!

Apr 02

Going Green To Save Green

Going Green To Save Green

green1Turning your home into a more energy efficient system, can improve performance, save money, and is good for the environment. With the right strategy, you can make any home more efficient and comfortable. Whether it’s an older home or a newer home, there are many measures homeowners can take to improve the efficiency. First you need to think about each part of your home, inside and out. Then, you can figure out which envelopes need the most work.

Insulation Can Go a Long Way

When installed properly, insulation slows the rate of air that flows out of and in the house. Whether it’s winter or summer, insulation improves your comfort, your efficiency and cuts the energy bills. If your house doesn’t have insulation in all the right places, you can usually tell… but sometimes it takes a little work. Plus, if your attic is unfinished, you should definitely think about getting it insulated. There are many types of insulation to choose from, but the most popular are made from fiberglass and foam. With insulation installation you should probably call an expert. They know where insulation needs to go and they install it correctly the first time. They also have special tools like infrared cameras to find all the hidden cavities where the air is escaping.

Windows

By upgrading or replacing your old windows with new energy efficient ones, you will feel the effects immediately. And even better yet, your energy bills will drop and drop fast. Yes, windows can become a little pricey, especially when you need to replace more than one.  But, it will pay off in the longer run… by a lot. Fortunately there are many types of energy efficient windows that offer a refund.

Let There Be Light

You wouldn’t think replacing your light bulbs would help the efficiency of your home. However, incandescent light bulbs not only use less energy, they are brighter then most regular bulbs. Plus, energy efficient light bulbs use less electricity to run. Do your research and compare the energy used for your old bulbs compared to new energy efficient bulbs. You will see a real difference in how much energy is used and how much it costs to run each one.

Outdoor Structures

Believe it or not, a verandah, car port, patios and awnings can make a big difference in energy efficiency. By installing an energy efficient roof, these home additions become an economic solution that you and your family can enjoy.

Eric Regan is a writer who loves the enviroment and has written many blogs on different going green and energy saving techniques

Mar 31

Endangered Species And Ecosystems

ecosystemTo save our environment is the primary responsibility of every one of us, and in order to save our environment, we have to make sure that all the species and animals on this planet must be saved. The reasons behind this are that many of these endangered species are important to sustain life on this planet. Some of these endangered species are an important part of the chain reaction that is important to save our ecosystem. We depend on different types of ecosystems to get food, fresh air,  and water. By polluting these ecosystems, we are actually gradually moving towards  the destruction of this planet. Cutting down the trees is the main cause for endangering the many important plant and animal species.

Causes of Endangered Species and Ecosystems
Industrialization has been the main cause of endangering the plant and animal species as well as ecosystems. Many of the animal species have already disappeared due to a lack of care, and every day we are threatening various other species by our continuous industrialization all over the world. Our planet is in danger at the moment, and every step towards industrialization is actually becoming the step towards destruction of this planet. The pollution caused by the industries also affected the animals living under the sea. It is not just the wildlife that is endangered at the moment, but the sea life is also in extreme danger. There are various causes for this process, but the results are the same, endangered species and ecosystems are increasing every day.

Why to Protect Endangered Species
Many plants as well as animals are important to develop medications, and research has revealed that almost half of the drugs prescribed by doctors are either made from the plants or animals. These animals and plants are not only working as the life savers, but these are also important for the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. Besides medications these species are also important for agricultural purposes also. At the moment, 90 percent of the food needed for the world has been fulfilled through plants; therefore, we have to protect all of these endangered species for our future generations.

How Endangered Species are Important for Our Ecosystems
The basics of any ecosystem are plants and animals, and these ecosystems are the key to sustaining life on this planet. Some of these ecosystems are ancient forests, grasslands, and coastal estuaries. These ecosystems are responsible to provide clean air, food, and water to the humans. Without these ecosystems, we cannot imagine life on this planet. When animal and plant species are in danger, that means our ecosystems that are essential for life are also in danger. Protecting our ecosystems by protecting these endangered species is the responsibility of everyone.
The endangered species and ecosystem are the major environmental issues today which need to be addressed accordingly if we want to keep our planet in a better condition. It becomes the responsibility of all people to protect our environment,and these endangered species.

Khavin, S is a freelance writer with a tremendous knowledge about environmental issues. No wonder he is actively engaged in environmental issues. Read his latest post about Jaguars.

Dec 14

The Problem With Bottled Water & Its Effects On Our Environment

Individual use of plastic water bottles has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Not only is bottled water much more expensive than tap water, but there is also a serious cost to our planet:

  • 1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually to manufacture plastic water bottles. (Earth Policy Institute)
  • 2 million tons of plastic bottles are land filled every year. (Worldwatch Institute)
  • Only 1 out of every 10 plastic bottles is recycled.
  • Bottled water has to either be pumped out of the ground or treated. Up to 1500 gallons of water are wasted during this process.
  • Bottled water uses fossil fuels in the making, filling, transporting, and recycling of plastic water bottles…up to 187 gallons of oil are spent! To learn more about this process, check out “The Story of Bottled Water” at www.storyofstuff.org/bottledwater.php
  • 1 billion pounds of CO2 is emitted in the transportation of bottled water in the United States alone.
  • 40% of PET bottles recycled in the United States in 2004 were exported – adding to the resources used.

Bottled water is drinking water packaged in plastic or glass containers. The dominant form is water packaged in new Polyethylene terephthalate bottles and sold retail. Another method of packaging is in larger high-density polyethylene plastic bottles, or polycarbonate plastic bottles, often used with water coolers.

Wasted material

The major criticism of bottled water concerns the bottles themselves. Individual use bottled water is generally packaged in Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). According to a NAPCOR study, PET water bottles account for 50% of all the PET bottles and containers collected by curbside recycling, and the recycling rate for water bottles is 23.4%, an increase over the 2006 rate of 20.1%. PET bottled water containers make up one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the United States.An estimated 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per annum in the US and around 200 billion bottles globally.

Health effects

Bottled water does not imply a specific treatment process or better process than tap water or another water source. Some bottled water is simply tap water bottled and sold. In the United States, the FDA regulates bottled water whilst the EPA regulates the quality of tap water and has created 90 maximum contaminant levels for drinking water and 15 secondary maximum contaminant levels.

According to a 1999 NRDC study, in which roughly 22 percent of brands were tested, at least one sample contained chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. Some of the contaminants found in the study could pose health risks if consumed over a long period of time. However, the NRDC report conceded that “most waters contained no detectable bacteria, and the levels of synthetic organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals of concern for which were tested were either below detection limits or well below all applicable standards.” Meanwhile, a report by the Drinking Water Research Foundation found that of all samples tested by NRDC, “federal FDA or EPA limits were allegedly exceeded only four times, twice for total coliforms and twice for fluorides.”

The rate of total dissolved solids is sometimes 4 times higher in bottled mineral waters than in bottled tap ones.

Another study, conducted by the Goethe University at Frankfurt found that a high percentage of the bottled water, contained in plastic containers were polluted with estrogenic chemicals. Although some of the bottled water contained in glass were found polluted with chemicals as well, the researchers believe some of the contamination in the plastic containers may have come from the plastic containers themselves.

Bottled water vs tap water

In the United States, bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle while tap water costs less than US$0.01.In 1999, according to a NRDC study, U.S. consumers paid between 240 and 10,000 times more per unit volume for bottled water than for tap water.Typically 90 percent or more of the cost paid by bottled water consumers goes to things other than the water itself—bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, other expenses, and profit.

In some areas, tap water may contain added fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities, but may also produce negative toxicological side-effects.

Bottled water has reduced amounts of copper, lead, and other metal contaminants since it does not run through the plumbing pipes where tap water is exposed to metal corrosion. However, this varies by the household and plumbing system.

In a study with 57 bottled water samples and tap water samples, all of the tap water samples had a bacterial content under 3 CFUs/mL and the bottled water samples’ bacterial content ranged from 0.01-4900 CFUs/mL(colony-forming unit). Most of the water bottle samples were under 1 CFU/mL, though there were 15 water bottle samples containing 6-4900 CFUs/mL.

In another study comparing 25 different bottled waters, most of the samples resulted exceeding the contaminant level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) for mercury, thallium, and thorium. Being exposed to these contaminants in high concentration for long periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage, and increase risk for lung and pancreas disease.

In much of the developed world chlorine is often added as a disinfectant. If the water contains organic matter, this can produce other products in the water such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. The level of residual chlorine found is small at around 00.2g per litre which is too small to directly cause any health problems.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund have all urged their supporters to consume less bottled water. Anti-bottled water campaigns and organizations, such as Corporate Accountability International, typically argue that bottled water is no better than tap water, and emphasize the environmental side-effects of disposable plastic bottles.

The Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit! demonstrated, in a 2007 episode, that in a controlled setting, diners could not discern between bottled water and water from a garden hose behind the restaurant.

Privatization of water

The United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, National Council of Churches, National Coalition of American Nuns and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are among some of the religious organizations that have raised questions about whether or not the “privatization” of water is ethical. They regard the industrial purchase and repackaging at a much higher resale price of a basic resource as an unethical trend.

The recent documentary Tapped argues against the bottled water industry, asserting that tap water is healthier, more environmentally sustainable and more ecologically just than bottled water. The film focuses on the bottled water industry in the United States. The film has largely seen positive reviews, and has spawned college campus groups such as Beyond the Bottle.

Tapped is a film that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. visit: http://www.tappedthefilm.com/

The Answer?

Home Water Filter Systems. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive and reliable alternative to tap water and bottled water. Home water filter systems are a far better option than bottled water in every way. A quality home water filter system filters out the dangerous contaminants found in tap water, including lead, chlorine, herbicides and pesticides. The home water filter industry has developed a wide variety of filter options, from drinking water filters to attach to your kitchen faucet, to under sink filters to shower filters to whole house water filters.

For pennies per gallon, a quality home water filter system turns your tap water into clean, healthy and safe water. No more bottles to deal with, no more bad taste or smell to your water, and no more concern about the water you and your family are drinking every day. For your health, for your budget and for our environment, a MultiPure home water filter is the best choice by far.

Aug 22

Make Back-To-School A “Green” Event

Photograph courtesy of tncountryfan/Flickr, Creative Commons license

Photograph courtesy of tncountryfan/Flickr, Creative Commons license

What motivates people to save energy? This year, the Great Energy Challenge launched a project, the 360º Energy Diet, designed in part to tackle this very question. (Another round of the diet begins this fall.) For some people who joined, it was the idea of living a simpler, less wasteful lifestyle. Others liked the idea of losing weight, whether it was literally shedding pounds by switching to less energy-intensive eating habits, or lightening their monthly bills by saving on electricity and other expenses.

survey released earlier this year by the consulting firms Deloitte and the Harrison Group confirms that financial incentives can motivate changes in energy use. Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I/Our family took several extra steps to reduce our electric bill as a result of the recession.” Even more striking, 95 percent of those consumers have no plans to go back to their pre-recession spending habits, even if the economy improves.

Operating on this same “green” (i.e. monetary) concept, the company Recyclebank offers consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom discounts and deals in exchange for everyday planet-friendly actions such as recycling electronics or cutting energy use at home. Looking ahead to the school year, when many families are making lots of new purchases and preparing students to participate in many new activities, Recyclebank offers these tips for a less resource-intensive back-to-school season:

Pack waste-free lunches: It’s estimated that Americans go through 100 billion plastic bags a year- this averages to 360 bags per person. Purchase a reusable lunch bag or box for your child, and fill reusable bottles with water or juice. If you do use plastic bags, reuse and recycle them. Clean and dry Ziploc® bags can be recycled at most grocery stores where you drop off plastic shopping bags.

Encourage school cafeterias to buy local:
 At the next PTA meeting, discuss the topic with other parents and consider connecting with school administrators about bringing local food to the cafeteria for sustainable and healthy lunches. Contact the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for resources and information on farm-to-school programs.

Conserve paper:
 Remind your family to only print when truly necessary. If you must print, do it on 100-percent recycled paper, which is often cheaper than paper made from trees. Consider investing in eReaders and tablet computers; your children can use them for school assignments and you forgo buying paper books, newspapers and magazines.

Choose sustainable school supplies:
 In the United States alone, approximately 11,600 incense-cedar trees are cut down to create the 2 billion pencils made each year. To minimize your environmental footprint, opt for school supplies wrapped in limited packaging and recycle what you can. Seek out greener supplies like recycled or mechanical pencils, refillable pens and paper clips made from recycled steel.

“Upcycle” last year’s supplies: Three-ring binders that are still in great working order can be refurbished at home. Cover the entire exterior of the binder with a sheet of cork contact paper, then trim to size for a clean, modern looking folder.

Recycle old electronics: If you’re upgrading your family’s electronics this year, be mindful of recycling old models (Recyclebank offers rewards for this). Don’t forget to recycle the batteries too.

Green your wardrobe: Shop in vintage or thrift stores to suspend the life of clothing, or even arrange a clothing swap with friends or relatives. When buying new clothes, look for those made with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and bamboo.

Streamline transportation:
 Use school or public buses when at all possible to reduce emissions. If you must drive, arrange a carpool. Getting bikes (and helmets) for the whole family is the most efficient way to go – and fun and healthy too.

In order to up the ante on many of these actions, Recyclebank is holding a Green Your School Year Challenge that begins Wednesday and goes through Sept. 30. The highest scorers can win prizes including $2,500 gift cards to Macy’s, electric bicycles and e-readers. No matter what your motivation, the fall season offers a good opportunity to reevaluate some of the choices we make every year, and possibly get some “green” in the process.

Aug 21

“Big Coal” Has Stolen Their Choices In Kentucky

EPA Officials Hear Concerns About Mining, Water Pollution in Eastern Kentucky

Erica Peterson August 19, 2011

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency are in Kentucky, touring areas in the eastern part of the state and meeting with residents who are concerned about the effect of coal mining on their communities.

At a community meeting last night in Whitesburg, the officials listened to residents describe their problems with coal dust, mountaintop removal blasting and the lack of state and local regulation enforcement.

“As we look at some of the things that are going on, we believe this area qualifies for extra environmental justice consideration,” says EPA Region Four administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming.

Environmental justice is the belief that pollution shouldn’t disproportionately affect groups like the poor or minorities. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who was not on the tour, has said in the past that achieving environmental justice throughout the country is one of her top priorities.

One of the common issues people mentioned was water. They say their water has been contaminated by mining or their wells ran dry after blasting cracked the water table.

Ada Smith lives in Letcher County. She left for four years to go to college on the east coast, and says she was bothered when her classmates began a campaign to stop people from drinking bottled water–they said it was bad for the environment. She says that isn’t a choice that people in the coalfields get to make.

“It was just one of these moments where I was like, why do these people get the opportunity to discuss how they want to have water and how they want to drink their water and how they want to spend money on water when we have to have a choice of whether we get water or not? I really want to have a choice if the rest of the country gets a choice,” she says.

The EPA officials will visit Lynch today.

Aug 11

Barbie Goes Green

Barbie gets a green roof

Posted: 2011-08-10 21:58:03 UTC

Kaid Benfield, Director, Sustainable Communities & Smart Growth, Washington, DC

I vacationed in Prague not long ago and wandered into a museum full of Barbie dolls.  Pretty impressive, in its way.  Barbie has come a long way over the years, and her newest incarnation over the years, and her newest incarnation is as an architect with a green home.

Architect Barbie (via Inhabitat)Bridgette Meinhold previewed Architect Barbie in Inhabitat:

“Various people and organizations have long been vying to get Barbie to become an architect and, finally in 2010, Mattel agreed.  University of Buffalo professor Despina Stratigakos and Kelly Hayes McAlonie consulted for Mattel and made suggestions about Architect Barbie’s clothing and her accessories.  While many disapprove of Architect Barbie’s choice of footwear, the architecture plan tube, and her choice of pink, the designers had good reason to choose all the items. They had to find a balance between stereotypes and pushing the boundaries.”  

I don’t have a big problem with that, actually, and would sooner hire an Architect Barbie than a hypothetical Architect Ken to design my building.

If I did, chances are the building might have some cool green features.  This summer, the American Institute of Architects held a design competition for Architect Barbie’s “Dream House.”  Among the guidelines, according to Meinhold, were that the home should reflect “the best sustainable design principles” with a smart home office, a top of the line kitchen “and tons of space to entertain.”

Architect Barbie's Dream House (via AIA)

The winning entry, designed by Ting Li and Maja Parklar, provides Barbie with the latest technology.  From the AIA press release announcing the winner:

“The winning house design features entertaining space and chef’s open kitchen on the first floor, along with an office / library / meeting space. There is also a terrace on the second floor.  The third and fourth floors are Barbie® doll’s private enclave, her bedroom and her inspiration room respectively.  The roof has a green house and a landscaped garden for her domestic pets.  The design elements include solar panels, landscaped rooftop and irrigation system, operable shading devices, bamboo flooring, low flow toilet and sink fixtures, and locally sourced and manufactured materials and furnishings.”

Go here for Meinhold’s latest coverage of the dream house, and lots of good images.

Of course, this being an AIA competition, the house has nearly 5,000 square feet of living space and is sited on a three-acre lot in Malibu with a three-car garage.  The Institute isn’t known for giving much weight to green locations with walkability and transportation choices in its competitions, unfortunately.  So I think “the best sustainable design principles” should come with a disclaimer in this case.  Even Barbie can’t have everything, apparently.

The series on NRDC’s sustainable communities agenda will resume tomorrow.

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog’s home page.


Jul 25

The Next Generation Of Turbines Go Underwater

The Next Generation Of Turbines Go Underwater, And They’re Coming Soon

BY MICHAEL J. CORENWed Jul 20, 2011

As the U.S. slowly abandons its dams, more and more pilot programs pop up for deriving power from tides and river currents. Welcome to a new age of water power.

Every day, enough water flows down America’s rivers and streams to power tens of millions of homes. With the era of big dams effectively over in the U.S., halted by the lack of suitable sites as much as environmental concerns, the time for hydrokinetic energy may just be dawning.

The ideas of using turbines, or other mechanical devices, to capture the energy of moving water is not a new one. Yet the technology for such hydrokinetic energy has met serious resistance from conditions below the surface. As water is 832 times denser than air, it poses tough engineering challenges for power generators who must contend with corrosion, stray electromagnetic fields, and rules to safeguard sealife.

“There’s a lot of electricity to be had from these device and probably fewer environmental impacts, says Glenn Cada, senior researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in the Department of Energy’s program to improve hydrokenetic technology and minimize the environmental impacts. “It’s not as easy as taking a taking a wind turbine and putting it under water. The forces are much greater. We are trying to understand how to make them sturdy enough to generate electricity from river currents.”

Demonstration projects in the Mississippi and New York’s East Rivers have been steadily perfecting the technology needed to capture this energy for almost a decade. Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project in New York’s East River (soon to be expanded) has successfully operated six underwater turbines between 2006-2008, and delivering 70 megawatt hours to a nearby supermarket and parking garage in what the company called the “world’s first grid-connected array of tidal turbines.” Free Flow Power Power has installed its own turbines, resembling jet engines, in the Mississippi and is eying more than 50 expansion sites.

Now, everyone from state agencies to universities are racing to get into the game. Applications to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for new hydrokinetic sites have soared in the last three years: 79   have been approved since 2009 (almost double those as of 2008), and 145 more are awaiting final approval in  Missouri, Maine, Louisiana, New Jersey and other states.

Eventually, based on the ambitions of several energy developers, underwater fields of hundreds of turbines could generating enough megawatts to power cities around the country.

“We’re trying to prove these things right now,” says Cada.

[Image: Atlantis Resources Corporation]

Reach Michael J. Coren via Twitter or email.

Read More: World’s First Floating Wind Turbine Installed, Ready for Testing

Jun 23

What is a bottle bill and how does it work?

Glass bottle, plastic bottle, aluminum can

Bottle bills (also known as container deposit laws) are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage bottles and cans for recycling. The refund value of the container (usually 5 or 10 cents) provides a monetary incentive to return the container for recycling. A bottle bill, or container deposit law, requires a refundable deposit on beverage containers to ensure that the containers are returned for recycling.

Benefits of bottle bills

From reducing litter to increasing the economy, container deposit systems offer a number of benefits.

Bottle Bills..

  • Supply recyclable materials for a high-demand market
  • Conserve energy and natural resources
  • Create new businesses and jobs
  • Reduce waste disposal costs
  • Reduce litter
  • and provide many more benefits

Because recycling is mandated on a local level, different states can decide how to incentivize participation. One option that has gained popularity is the bottle bill.

The bottle bill allows for consumers to pay an extra charge when purchasing beverage containers. This charge is then totally or partially refunded when the container is recycled at a certified redemption center.

While most programs nationwide will give consumers money for materials such as aluminum, the bottle bill unifies this refund across the state.

Beverage Container Deposits

The first bottle bill was passed in Oregon in 1971. Currently, eleven states operate these programs. States differ in how unredeemed deposits are dispersed.

Here’s how the bottle bill works in each state:

  • California (imposed Sept. 29, 1986): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by a state-managed fund.
  • Connecticut (April 12, 1978): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Delaware (June 30, 1982): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Hawaii (June 25, 2002): Distributors pay a 5-cent-per-container deposit into a special state fund on a monthly basis. Distributors charge retailers the deposit on each container purchased by the retailer. In turn, the retailer charges the consumer for the deposit. Unredeemed deposits are retained by a state-managed fund.
  • Iowa (April 1978): At least a 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Maine (Jan. 12, 1976): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on beer, soft drink, wine cooler, non-alcoholic carbonated and non-carbonated beverage containers, and a 15-cent deposit is imposed on wine and other liquor beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by the state General Fund.
  • Massachusetts (Jan. 1983): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by a state Clean Environment Fund.
  • Michigan (Nov. 2, 1976): A 10-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained at 75 percent by a state-managed fund and 25 percent by retailers.
  • New York (June 15, 1982): At least a 5-cent deposit is imposed on all eligible beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Oregon (July 2, 1971): A 2-cent deposit is imposed on all standardized refillable beverage containers, and a 5-cent deposit is imposed on all non-standardized refillable beverage containers. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.
  • Vermont (April 7, 1972): A 5-cent deposit is imposed on beer, malt, soft drink, mineral and soda water and wine cooler beverage containers. A 15-cent deposit is imposed on liquor beverage containers greater than 50 milliliters. Unredeemed deposits are retained by distributors/bottlers.

These 11 states report higher recycling rates for beverage containers than states without such programs. California, for example, reported a 60 percent recycling rate for its beverage containers between January and December 200. During that year, more than 13 billion containers were recycled, which was 814 million more than the previous year.

California leads the nation in the total quantity of bottles and cans recycled. States with deposit programs have generally maintained higher recycling rates for beverage containers than the U.S. average rate.

Bottle bill opponents call deposit requirements a “tax” fronted by taxpayers. However, one-way, throwaway, no-deposit, no-return beverage containers are a corporate subsidy, a hidden tax. Taxpayers absorb the cost of disposing of beverage containers. And many taxpayers absorb the costs of recycling beverage containers through curbside recycling programs.

When there is a refundable deposit on beverage containers, the consumers pay the deposit. The deposit is refunded if the container is returned. And the beverage distributors and bottlers absorb the cost of collection. They then chose whether or not to pass their costs on to their consumers. Because 70 percent or more of the deposit containers are returned, taxpayers pay less for disposal, litter pickup and curbside recycling.

National Recycling Program

Based on a report published by the General Accounting Office on municipal recycling, recycling stakeholders who were interviewed encouraged increasing municipal recycling via adoption of a federal bottle bill. The National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act of 2003 was introduced to the Senate, which referred the bill on Nov. 14 to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The bill was introduced to the Committee three days later by Senator Jeffords (I-VT), but no action has as yet been taken on the bill.

For more information about bottle bills, visit www.bottlebill.org.